Friday, October 28, 2005

day 6

today is about 300km. from the archer river roadhouse to kalpowar crossing.

on the xr650 again and i'm lovin it. this thing cruises along effortlessly.

the instructions as we leave the roadhouse, and spread ourselves out, are quite simple, go out to the right, do not turn left, do not head back the way you came, do not go back over the little concrete bridge. obviously the head tour guide has never heard of negative reinforcement. after he leaves, my mate is next. he heads up to the intersection, turns left, and heads back the way we came. the guides look at each other in disbelief, “surely not”, they say. one jumps on his bike and heads off after him, about 10 mins later they are back.

later i asked my mate if he did that just to take the pressure off me for my screwups, but no, he just stuffed up. later he trys to change his story, but it’s too late hehehehe

we go through about 50km of what can only loosely be described as a highway, dips and corrugations, all on dirt. i slow down for the first, it’s quite easy, take the second a bit quicker, no worries, bottom out on the third which isn’t even signposted and decide to treat them all as potential nuisances and slow down for each one.

at a place called coen, with some bitumen, we take a little side excursion, which i quite enjoyed, more like the limited bit of riding i’ve previously done. then some bitumen and another 70km of dirt to musgrove station for a quick breather and fuel stop.

a little further south to the lotus bird lodge for lunch. here the owner tells us of a big salt water crocodile that lives in the lagoon here, it’s been here since the last wet season. he tells us how he saw it catch a wild pig and then destroy it as it thrashed around, half out of the water, breaking up the pig into bite sized chunks.

i mention while talking to the head guide, that i had trouble pulling up in time for the turn into the lodge, he says i'm probably going too fast. i have a bit of a think. i'm not going too fast for the bike or the conditions, but too fast for my skill level. i can confidently go a lot quicker than day 1, but i'm probably not able to pull myself up quick enough to avoid any changes in the road or oncoming traffic if it's on my side of the road. (which happens a fair bit) so now i slow down a bit. the others seem to have got the hang of "backing it in" to a turn, but i can't get myself around it yet. i'm just gonna plod along and avoid killing myself.

then it’s more dirt road south, army trucks, other trucks, road trains and some 4wd’s, deep bulldust bits and some roadworks. ironically the 10km of roadworks, which was signposted 40kph, was the best bit of dirt road we came across. i’d like to say we were all good citizens and slowed down to 40kph for the whole bit, but at least we slowed down whenever we saw anyone working. i thought it was like at home, they never bother putting up the end of roadworks signs half the time, so you never know when to speed up, so after going past a road crew you kinda just speed up whenever you feel like it, but you get caught out occasionally.

then finally we come to a sign which says “end roadworks”, now you can speed up again, and it’s back onto the big fucking corrugations, big sandy corrugations, and other wierd stuff. so i slow down.

we turn off onto a track which will lead us into kalpowar crossing. and enter some really wierd and cool country. some grass, but sometimes just rock hard dried mud, with thousands and thousands of termite mounds. Steve says it reminds him of a moonscape, we stop for a photo.

the xr650 is definitely the coolest so far, i’m still struggling in sand, but i slowed down a bit and tried to relax. lots and lots of fun dips in and out of creeks.

a full moon and a clear night at kalpower crossing. after dinner we go for a walk to see if we can find some crocodiles but we only find some cane toads.

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